Conservation Lab Equipment

Ann Flowers using the Kensol stamping machine

Kensol stamping machine

Historical Equipment

Much of the equipment in the Conservation Lab is very old, dating from the 1800's, and is intentionally kept in its original condition so that students may understand the history behind the 2000-year-old craft of bookbinding. Many pieces were "inherited" from the old University of Michigan Bindery: a rounding table, a backing press, a massive lying press (with blocks that are four feet long), cast iron presses, a board shear, a guillotine, gold stamping equipment, sewing machines, sewing frames, benches, a perforator and an extensive collection of hand tools.

Leafcasting to repair a document

Leafcasting to repair a document

Hand Crafted Equipment

Former head conservator Jim Craven built many of the devices used in the Conservation Lab, such as drying frames, book clamps, brass stamping tools, leafcasting mold and deckle box, and the vacuum table.

In the accompanying photo, Craven uses the leafcasting apparatus which he constructed, to repair a damaged document, using a slurry of filtered water and paper pulp to fill in voids. The stainless steel sinks were a gift of the Friends of the Library.

Wei T'o sprayer

Using Wei T'o sprayer and spray booth to deacidify a map.

Modern Equipment

The Conservation Lab also tries to keep up with the latest research and methods that are available. Materials are tested for acidity and treated in the deacidification spray booth if test results warrant it and inks can withstand it. A spray whose active ingredient is magnesium neutralizes the acids in the paper and leaves it buffered to protect against future exposure to acidic materials.

The Poly Sealer fuses the edges with heat in order to encapsulate fragile papers between clear polyester sheets so they may be handled and examined without damage.

There is also a 60" mat cutter, with which conservators can cut polyester for oversize encapsulations, in addition to cutting mat board.